I listen to audiobooks in my car, during my commute. The sound quality and narration in this one is so poor that it is effectively impossible to listen to.
I was expecting an interesting travelogue and a story of a man overcoming hardship. Instead what I got was a rich man moping and feeling sorry for himself. His travelogue is mostly a list of the birds he saw, the motels he stayed in, what he ate and what he drank. Mostly he complains and complains. I recognize that he had some very rough stuff happen to him, but f*cking come on already. Until that point he had led an incredibly charmed life, the sort of life that anybody would dream of. He seems to have no sense of perspective or awareness of that, just a brooding self-pity that goes on forever.
The second half of the book is apparently just letters to acquaintances, still brooding and complaining about snowshoeing and x-country skiing and hiking around on his woodland estate. I have about 5 hours of this book left and will not finish it.
I have heard that his earlier books are good. There are a lot of books out there though, and I doubt I'll come back for more of this.
He has some good descriptions of interesting places at the very beginning, when he was still in the Yukon and Alaska.
The last 3/4 of the book.
I realize I am probably being hard on this book. The narration is good and really captures the self-pitying tone of the book and in fact may have magnified it. I really think this book was for Neal to work through his own grieving process and can't imagine why anybody else would want to read it.
Another Taleb book that spends more time talking about how brilliant Nassim is (and how stupid everybody else is and how stupid they are for not realizing how brilliant he is) than anything else.
Taleb's attempts to construct parables, to stitch together what appears to be an unedited notebook around his central theme is a repetitive morass of endless repetition and the same thing over and over until the very end where he repeats himself again.
Only he doesn't appear to realize he's doing it...
Here is the take-away. It is an old one, and one that is not new, and didn't really need a new name (no matter what Taleb seems to think):
There are things that fall apart when faced with surprises. These things are fragile. Often you can make small gains in the short run by investing in these, but you are exposed to tremendous loss when that surprise comes along. There are also things that make small losses in the short run (under normal circumstances) but that gain from surprises. If you can survive the stream of small losses, the big gains are really big. For this reason, it's always better to be in the second situation than the first.
No, the genre is still strong.
He accurately captured the self-absorbed, vitriolic and condescending tone of the book. I grew to hate his voice and speaking style as much as Taleb himself!
You could cut 2/3 of this book without affecting the quality. I'm sure Taleb would fire you as editor and tell you you're too much of a simpleton to understand his genius and that every drop of turd in this book is a pearl of his infinite and misunderstood wisdom.
You can watch his TED presentation and get the entire point of the book (
Simon Sinek's style of speaking grates on me as bursting with smugness
It has been a long time since I have read any Melville, so I can't tell if the author simply became so immersed in his prose that she lost track of ordinary language or if she intended this piece to be an homage of sorts to his style, but I found myself rolling my eyes over and over throughout this book. It felt very much like a cocktail conversation with a knowledgable but insecure and overcompensating grad student.
The narration in this book was fantastic, and the material -while very lengthy and sometimes a bit prosaic- was insightful and well-researched.
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